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Spellbound

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by

Lainy Thomas

on 14 January 2015

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Transcript of Spellbound

Jeffery Blitz is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter from New Jersey. He graduated from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in 1997. In 2002, he directed the film "Spellbound" which was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. "Spellbound" also won the Emmy for Cultural/Artistic Programming and Jeffery Blitz was nominated for directing.
Introduction
Spellbound follows the lives of 8 young teens as they prepare for the 1999 Script National Spelling Bee in Washington DC. The movie follows the hometown lifestyles of each contestant and the journeys they make to Washington DC. Each child's opinion on the matter of spelling bees is shown, along with their studying techniques. Each child also explains why they enjoy the spelling bee process. The film gives the audience an inside look as to how a spelling bee works, and it turns out to be quite a grueling process. Spellbound shows the pressure and anxiety that spelling bees cause, along with the rewards. Each child is engaging and talented, but only one will win it all.
Rhetorical Analysis

Spellbound the Documentary, released on October 10 of 2003, is based off of 8 young students that compete to win one of the most prestigious academic contests in the United States. The film's gross pay was $5,728,431 (USA) as of December 2003. The film was filmed at the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Spellbound had 19 award wins and 9 additional nominations, along with an Oscar nomination. The 8 spellers were: Neil Kadakia, Emily Stagg, Ashley White, April DeGideo, Harry Altman, Angela Arenivar, Nupur Lala and Ted Brigham all from different ethnic backgrounds giving the audience a look into the "melting pot" culture of the United States.
Spellbound
Jeffery Blitz
What is the filmmaker's purpose?
His purpose is to show viewers how seriously these kids take the spelling and that it's competitive nature brings meaning to them that most people don't recognize.
What is the argument? What assertion/claims are made?
The argument is that the spelling bee can be a symbol of new opportunities for people coming to America. Kids in other countries don't always have the privilege of freedom and the ability to succeed and grow.
What rhetorical strategies does the filmmaker use?
Pathos: You learn more about the contestants and grow to appreciate their love for the activity and their goals as they strive to take the title, so it is emotional when they are eliminated.
Humor: Blitz adds comedic moments to the documentary to lighten the mood.
To what extent does the argument have validity?
The argument has validity because the viewer is able to see how stressful and time consuming a spelling bee is, and that it's more than just a competition.
What is the attitude or viewpoint of the director? Tone?
The viewpoint is of someone on the outside learning more about the spelling bee and there's a positive attitude of someone interested in this topic. The tone is very factual, and also appreciative of the hard work a spelling bee takes.
What cinematic techniques does the film use to prove its point?
They interview and follow the contestants of the spelling bee along with their parents to get a first hand account of what preparation for the spelling bee is like.
How does the structure of the film help achieve its purpose?
The film is in chronological order, starting with how the kids learned about the spelling bee, then their training, and finally the National Bee. This helps to show how much time the students put into the bee.
Rhetorical Analysis
Film Clip
Film Background
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=spellbound
Full transcript